Cybersecurity Programs in Washington

Updated October 31, 2022

Washington's diverse technology sector offers exciting opportunities for cybersecurity professionals. Explore the state's cybersecurity degree, career, and professional development opportunities.

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Known for its national parks, majestic mountains, and stunning greenery, picturesque Washington is also a well-established tech hotspot. The Seattle area hosts the headquarters of multiple technology companies, including Amazon and Microsoft.

Technology is among the top economic sectors in Washington. According to the state's commerce department, Washington is among the top states for exporting technology services: 57% of its service exports relate directly to the tech industry.

Washington has a strong profile as a cybersecurity destination. This guide explores leading career paths and programs in cybersecurity at Washington universities.

Washington at a Glance

  • Average Wage for Computer and Mathematical Occupations: $124,000
  • Percentage of Workers in Tech: 9.4%
  • Economic Impact of Tech Industry: $128 billion
  • Number of Higher Learning Institutions: 72

Sources: Cyberstates™, NCES, OEWS

Why Study Cybersecurity at a Washington University?

Washington state is home to 72 degree-granting postsecondary institutions. Degree-seekers at these schools can enroll in an array of cybersecurity programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. These include campus-based, fully online, and hybrid programs.

One major benefit of pursuing cybersecurity at a Washington university is networking. Many programs offer practical training experiences, including internships and work-study opportunities. These are typically performed in partnership with local employers.

Given the strength of Washington's technology industry, taking part in practical training opportunities through your studies can deliver important benefits. For example, students often source job leads through connections they make during field learning experiences.

Higher education cost trends in Washington can be advantageous: According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average in-state tuition at four-year public institutions in Washington was 20.2% less in 2020-21 than the national average.

Education Statistics for Washington

Washington has a highly educated population. According to U.S. census data, the percentage of residents over age 25 with a college degree exceeds national averages at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. This reflects the advanced, diverse, and technologically oriented nature of the state's economy and workforce.

Higher Education Statistics Washington Data National Data
Four-Year Colleges 60 2,679
Two-Year Colleges 12 1,303
Students Enrolled in Distance Education, 2020-21 56.4% 72.8%

Sources: NCES

Accreditation for Washington Schools

Accredited schools meet rigorous academic standards that third-party observers determine. Degree-seekers should only consider accredited cybersecurity universities in Washington. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) is the institutional accrediting authority for Washington state.

In addition to institutional accreditation, some departments may receive programmatic or specialized accreditation. These endorsements identify programs and institutions with curricula that prepare students for jobs in relevant fields. Two examples of technology-oriented accreditors that endorse cybersecurity programs include:

You can research schools' accreditation status by visiting the Council for Higher Education Accreditation's website.

Considerations for a Cybersecurity Degree in Washington State

Many factors can impact a student's decision about which Washington cybersecurity university to attend. For instance, the availability of flexible distance learning options may be important to a learner looking to balance school with other commitments. The level at which you plan to study can also narrow your available options — not all schools offer cybersecurity programs at every level.

In addition to considering program delivery formats and availability, you may also consider:

The table below depicts enrollment in distance education courses. Because this NCES data is from 2020 and reflects trends related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the information may not represent typical enrollment trends.

Explore rankings for top cybersecurity programs around the country:

Associate Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

Associate Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

Best Online Bachelor's in Cybersecurity Programs

Best Online Bachelor's in Cybersecurity Programs

Best Online Master's in Cybersecurity Programs

Best Online Master's in Cybersecurity Programs

Top Doctoral Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

Top Doctoral Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

Most Diverse Cybersecurity Programs

Most Diverse Cybersecurity Programs

HBCUs With the Best Cybersecurity Programs

HBCUs With the Best Cybersecurity Programs

Cybersecurity Concentrations and Similar Degrees

Some cybersecurity students specialize their learning. A highly targeted skill set may narrow your list of employment options, but can give you a competitive advantage when applying for positions in specific subfields.

To this end, consider the following cybersecurity specializations:

  • Digital Forensics: Technology forensics specialists have advanced skills in areas like data retrieval, data preservation, and evidence documentation. They typically assist law enforcement officials conducting cybercrime investigations.
  • Cloud Security: Businesses and organizations have become increasingly dependent on cloud computing. This concentration prepares learners for careers in cloud cybersecurity.
  • Information Systems Security: Computerized information systems use both hardware and software to categorize and protect important data. This specialization focuses on securing those systems to prevent both internal and external unauthorized access.

Paying for Your Cybersecurity Degree

Paying for a cybersecurity degree in Washington state can be challenging despite the availability of affordable education options. Students in need of financial aid should begin by researching sources of aid that do not require repayment, such as grants, fellowships, and scholarships.

The Washington College Grant offers funding opportunities to students from low- and middle-income families. Eligible applicants are guaranteed some kind of funding assistance.

If you still need financial help after exhausting these options, consider federal and private loans, which require repayment with interest.

The following table provides a general breakdown of how higher education costs in Washington compare to national averages:

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

Most public institutions offer lower tuition rates to in-state students and assign higher rates to out-of-state learners. However, Washington participates in the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). WICHE members include 15 states and five Pacific Ocean nations and territories.

Students from WICHE member states can qualify for discounted tuition at Washington public institutions. Undergraduates qualify through the Western Undergraduate Exchange, while graduate students are eligible through the Western Regional Graduate Program.

Washington's Cost of Living

Washington-based students should also factor the local cost of living into their budgets. Washington state is a relatively expensive place to live, as indicated by its elevated cost of living index score. This index, which World Population Review maintains, compares local living costs to overall trends across the United States, using 100 as a baseline for the national average.

As of October 2022, Washington has an overall cost of living index score of 111.6. This means that on the whole, the state has living costs 11.6% higher than the national average.

Careers for Cybersecurity Graduates in Washington

The 2022 edition of CompTIA's annual Cyberstates report presents Washington as one of the top technology career destinations in the United States. Washington ranked first for the percentage of its workforce in tech (9.4%), fifth in net tech jobs added, and sixth in net tech employment.

Software-related positions comprised the majority of Washington-based tech jobs, but cybersecurity was the second-largest employing subfield in 2022, hosting more than 23,000 positions. CompTIA also tracked more than 113,000 tech job postings in Washington during the course of the year, including about 45,500 in emerging specializations.

Within Washington, the Seattle area is a hub for technology. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for information security analysts — a broad career category that includes many cybersecurity professions — Seattle ranks in the top 10 metro areas nationally for both employment levels and average wages.

The following sections profile some popular Washington state cybersecurity careers:

Select Cybersecurity Careers in Washington

Security Administrator

These senior IT security specialists oversee and manage their employers' cybersecurity and network security measures. They work to prevent cyberattacks and data breaches and lead responses to security incidents.

  • 2021 Average Salary for Security Administrators in Washington: $178,130
  • Job Outlook in Washington (2020-30): Projections Central includes security administrators within its computer and information systems manager category. It projects 31.4% growth in computer and information systems manager jobs in Washington from 2020 to 2030.

Security Analyst

Security analysts assess cyberthreats and their employers' ability to resist them. They fill supporting roles in cybersecurity teams, so recent graduates can qualify for these positions.

  • October 2022 Average Salary for Security Analysts: $70,520
  • Job Outlook in Washington (2018-28): Projections Central includes security analysts in its information security analyst category. It projects 48.3% growth in information security analyst jobs in Washington from 2018 to 2028.

Penetration Tester

Penetration testers use ethical hacking skills to test their employers' cybersecurity and network defenses. They identify weaknesses and propose solutions to address them.

  • October 2022 Average Salary for Penetration Testers: $88,550
  • Job Outlook in Washington (2018-28): Projections Central includes penetration testers in its information security analyst category. It projects 48.3% growth in information security analyst jobs in Washington from 2018 to 2028.

Discover more Washington cybersecurity and tech careers by exploring the tables below:

Washington Employment Trends

Projected Job Growth for Computer Hardware Engineers, Computer Network Architects, and Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers
Year State National
Computer Hardware Engineers
2020 Employment 1,900 66,200
2030 Projected Employment 2,570 67,300
Projected Job Growth, 2020-2030 +35.3% +1.7%
Computer Network Architects
2018 Employment 4,190 165,200
2028 Projected Employment 4,810 174,200
Projected Job Growth, 2018-28 +14.8% +5.4%
Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers
2020 Employment 107,110 1,847,900
2030 Projected Employment 146,420 2,257,400
Projected Job Growth, 2020-2030 +36.7% +22.2%

Source: Projections Central

Salaries for Cybersecurity and Related Careers, 2021
Career Washington Employment Washington Average Annual Wage National Average Annual Wage
Computer and Information Systems Managers 13,720 $178,130 $162,930
Computer Hardware Engineers 1,830 $166,980 $136,230
Computer Network Architects 3,450 $129,320 $120,650
Computer Network Support Specialists 3,270 $89,090 $71,350
Computer Programmers 3,850 $183,610 $96,650
Computer Systems Analysts 14,320 $112,050 $102,210
Information Security Analysts 4,000 $123,550 $113,270
Network and Computer Systems Administrators 7,900 $96,490 $91,250
Software Developers 81,520 $145,150 $120,990
Web Developers 2,810 $101,920 $81,320

Source: BLS OEWS

The statistics above speak to the relative strength of Washington's technology industry for professionals in Washington, regardless of which computer science subject they pursue. For every career profiled, tech professionals earn average salaries that exceed national averages. For instance, Washington computer programmers earn an average salary almost 90% higher than the national average.

Cybersecurity Employers in Washington

Thousands of Washington employers employ cybersecurity experts. The following snapshot profiles three regional employers of tech professionals with cybersecurity backgrounds:

Microsoft: This Redmond, Washington-based technology giant employs more than 220,000 people worldwide. A strong industry leader, Microsoft has ongoing needs for qualified cybersecurity specialists.

Amazon: As a titan of global e-commerce, Amazon relies on cybersecurity professionals to protect the sensitive data it generates. According to a June 2022 article from The Seattle Times, approximately 65,000 people are employed at the company's Seattle and Bellevue campuses.

ExtraHop: This Seattle-based IT agency provides cybersecurity solutions to businesses that use cloud-based computing resources.

Professional Cybersecurity Organizations in Washington

Professional organizations, conferences, and resources can help cybersecurity workers learn about ongoing trends in the field and network with employers. The following list explores Washington-specific cybersecurity opportunities:

Seattle Cybersecurity Summit

This national conference features presentations from high-profile industry leaders. Its yearly schedule includes a Seattle event.

State Office of Cybersecurity

This agency of the Washington state government offers cybersecurity training programs and resources to businesses impacted by cyberattacks.

Washington Technology Industry Association

The Washington Industry Technology Association includes 1,000 companies working to dismantle racism and promote diversity in tech.

Information Professional Management Association

This nonprofit group offers networking programs, leadership training, and professional development to IT and cybersecurity professionals in Washington.

Schools With Cybersecurity Degrees in Washington State

Questions About Cybersecurity in Washington

Can I get a degree in cybersecurity in Seattle?

Yes. Multiple leading Seattle universities, including Seattle University and Seattle Pacific University, offer cybersecurity programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Are the top cybersecurity universities in Washington expensive?

Average in-state tuition at four-year Washington public universities is below national averages. However, the state's private school average tuition is more expensive relative to nationwide trends.

What cybersecurity jobs in the state of Washington can I get?

Washington has one of the largest, most dynamic tech industries of any U.S. state. Cybersecurity specialists at all stages of their career can connect with a host of well-paid employment opportunities.

Is cybersecurity a good career in Washington?

Washington state's tech professions have strong growth projections and pay higher-than-average wages. Salaries for most career fields exceed national averages.

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